U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration

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Vaccination prevents the spread of infectious diseases. Vaccination for influenza is recommended for children aged 6 months through 18 years of age, adults aged 50 years and older, pregnant women or women who will be pregnant during flu season, persons with certain chronic medical conditions, persons in long-term care facilities, and health care workers and other persons in close contact with those at high risk.1 In 2008, 47.5 percent of women aged 55–64 years and 68.1 percent of women aged 65 years and older reported receiving a flu vaccine in the past year; rates of vaccination vary, however, by poverty status. Among women aged 65 years and older, women with family incomes of 200 percent or more of poverty were most likely to have had a flu vaccine (70.6 percent), compared to 61.5 percent of women with incomes below 100 percent of poverty.

Pneumonia (pneumococcal) vaccine is recommended for adults aged 65 years and older, people with certain health conditions (such as asthma), and those who smoke cigarettes. In 2008, 62.9 percent of women aged 65 and older reported ever receiving the vaccine. In this age group, 52.8 percent of women with household incomes below 100 percent of poverty received the vaccination, compared to 65.5 percent of women with household incomes of 200 percent or more of poverty.

Hepatitis B vaccine is recommended to reduce the spread of hepatitis B, which may result in cirrhosis of the liver, liver cancer, liver failure, and even death.2 In 2008, hepatitis B vaccination varied by poverty level, as well as age. Younger women were more likely than women of other ages to have received at least one of the three recommended doses.

In 2009, a new strain of the influenza virus, 2009 H1N1, emerged worldwide. The strain appears to affect younger people more severely than the seasonal flu, and can cause severe illness and death in pregnant and postpartum women.3 The H1N1 vaccine is recommended for pregnant women, people aged 6 months to 24 years, those caring for children under 6 months, and those aged 25–64 who have certain medical conditions.4

1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Prevention and Control of Influenza: Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). MMWR, July 28, 2006: 55(RR10); 1-42. http://www.cdc.gov/MMWR/, accessed 12/03/09.
2 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A Comprehensive Immunization Strategy to Eliminate Transmission of Hepatitis B Virus Infection in the United States, Part II. MMWR, Dec 8, 2006: 55(RR16); 1-25. http://www.cdc.gov/MMWR/, accessed 12/03/09.
3 Louie JK, Acosta M, Jamieson DJ, Honein MA.  Severe 2009 H1N1 Influenza in Pregnant and Postpartum Women in California.  New England Journal of Medicine. 2010; 362: 27-35.
4 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Key Facts About 2009 H1N1 Flu Vaccine. [online] November 25,2009.  http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/vaccination/vaccine_keyfacts.htm, accessed 12/08/09.

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